Commuters' victory on train times

By Juliette MaxamCOMMUTERS are celebrating after a train company altered its timetable so they could get to work on time without having to get up 40 minutes earlier.

By Juliette Maxam

COMMUTERS are celebrating after a train company altered its timetable so they could get to work on time without having to get up 40 minutes earlier.

First Great Eastern announced last month it was scrapping the 6.32am Clacton to Stratford service from the start of the summer timetable on May 18.

The decision angered a group of commuters in Wivenhoe and Alresford, who used the service to get to work at Canary Wharf, in London's Docklands, for 8.30am.

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They were facing having to get a train 40 minutes earlier and changing at Colchester in order to still get to work in time.

But now First Great Eastern has scheduled a 6.29am train from Clacton, which will take commuters to Wivenhoe in time to catch a connecting train arriving at Stratford for 7.57am. That new service will come into effect in the winter timetable, which starts on September 28.

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In the meantime, the existing 6.32am Clacton to Stratford service will continue until further notice as the implementation of the new summer timetable on the Tendring branch line has been postponed until the new sliding doors trains come into operation.

It is due to the introduction of the new trains – which are too long to stop at small stations such as Alresford – that the service is being scrapped.

Anne Scott-Horne, who travels from Alresford during the week to get to her job at HSBC bank in Canary Wharf, said: "This sounds a satisfactory conclusion as I, and others, can get on at Alresford, change at Wivenhoe and get to Stratford approximately the same time as now.

"I don't mind changing trains once as I shall get to the office on time, but the times they had previously planned for meant leaving home earlier, changing trains and still getting to work late."

Peter Northfield, spokesman for First Great Eastern, said: "We do listen to customers. Any timetable has to be balanced which means we have to listen to the needs of everybody. We are delighted we have been able to come up with something which has been beneficial."

First Great Eastern is due to announce this week when it expects to start operating the new trains. The company had anticipated the new trains to start running in time for the May timetable, but rigorous testing has pushed back the start date.

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